Sohan Kalwar, Hifazat Miya & Birendra Ram, all in their early twenties & sole earning members of their subsistence-based families, lost their lives in the Madhesh movement under controversial circumstances.
Certain political actors & the state might have wronged but that does not mean we have to follow suit, that we cannot try to help set things right. During our thirty-seven day walk from Mahakali to Mechi, we met nine families who had lost a member in the movement. Among those we found the Kalwar family from Parsa, the Miya family from Bara & the Ram family from Saptari, to be in dire straits. They lived in abject poverty; the mothers were in their teens & early twenties, the children in early infancy.
When I asked Hifazat’s mother what could help bring peace to her heart, she simply said that she would like to see her year-old granddaughter, who is suffering from polio & other disabilities, & yet to be born grandchild educated. She did not seek justice or any other redress. It was a simple request. It was then that I felt responsible towards the family & others who might need help. I felt, that it is our responsibility to make an attempt to heal their wounds, that we are sons & daughters of the same soil & need to stand-by each other.
What has been done so far?
In January, NRs. 279,460 was crowd-sourced from concerned individuals & groups. We divided that into three parts & created funds of NRs. 93150 for each family, under the guardianship of local activists Aashu Sarraf – for the Kalwar & Miya families in Jayalaxmi Cooperative, Birgunj, & Abed El Rahaman – for the Ram family in Srijana Finance, Bhardaha. Since then, NRs. 137,185 more has been raised & added to those funds.
Each family will withdraw NRs. 5000 every 3 months, which is not an insignificant amount in rural Terai, up until the children turn 16, to help ensure that the family does not have to make compromises in adequate nutrition, warm clothes, educational materials & other essentials for the children. When the children turn 16, the accounts will be closed. The remaining amount might help in incurring college admission fees, starting a business or fulfilling other requirements.
What needs to be done?
NRs. 300,000 is needed for each family, i.e. in each family’s fund, to make this initiative a success. This means that we still need to crowd-source NRs. 483,355 – which is not a humongous amount, but can bring hope to the lives of these infants & the families.
There can be no harmony without empathy. Proactive efforts are needed to help the Madheshi community feel respected, recognized & trusted. The present Madhesh Movement is a result of years of discrimination, distress & ignorance, any more of these by the larger Nepali community & state will only make things worse, for all of us. I feel that supporting these families is a way to empathize. There are other families, maybe there are better ways too, please take the lead.
Thank you; feel free to contact me for further queries. I am going around personally accepting contributions.
Call me at +977-9801056695 or inbox on my FACEBOOK.
Guest Post By: Iih
Read about his journey: Meeting People to Spread the Message of Unity, Two Friends Are Walking From Mahakali to Mechi